If you have ever been to Chicago you may have noticed the buttered goodness of a deep dish pizza. Now you can recreate that same thick dough at home. The trick is to have a good cast iron skillet. I have a few but I definitely have my favorite cast iron. It was passed down to me and I intend to pass it down to my children when they get older.
When using a cast iron skillet it needs to be either new or well-seasoned. If it is neither, fear not, coat it with a little oil and put it in the oven on 200ºF for about 30-45 minutes.
Once your cast iron is seasoned you can start with your dough. I like to use a very basic thick crust recipe:
2 1/2 cups of German 812 Flour (bread flour)
1 1/3 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of sugar
¾ teaspoon of active yeast
1 cup of lukewarm water
2 teaspoons of natural sea salt
In a large mixing bowl combine your water, salt, sugar, and yeast. Start with your water and slowly stir in each ingredient. Allow the mixture to rest for five minutes or so. This gives the yeast time to activate and dissolve. The mixture will look a tad foamy which is perfectly okay. Keep stirring and slowly add in your flour until the dough starts to form.
Wash your hands and mix the dough with your wet hands and knead the dough. If the dough seems too dry then you will want to add water a teaspoon at a time. Your altitude and weather conditions will alter how your dough preforms. Knead the dough into a ball for about 10 minutes. The dough should be formed into a tight ball. Use your hands to coat the olive oil around the dough. In order to use the dough the same day you should make this a few hours before you need it, as with any dough. Store the dough in room temperature for an hour and a half. This will give your dough time to rise. Once you have allowed it to rise knead the dough back into another ball letting all the gasses escape and put it in the fridge for one to two hours.
When you are ready to bake put your oiled dough ball into a buttered cast iron skillet. The butter will give it that flavor we talked about earlier. You will want to smash the pizza into the bottom of the skillet and around the sides, making a mold of sorts with the dough. Cut the excess dough about ½ an inch from the top of the cast iron skillet. If you do not want to waste the dough you can fold it back down onto the bottom.
Add a bit of your favorite sauce but make sure you do not overdo it and add your toppings. All meat should be cooked, see the article about what order to place your toppings if you need help with that.
Pre-heat your oven to 450ºF. While your oven is pre-heating place your cast iron pizza onto the burner at high heat for about two minutes then transfer to the oven.
I like to place a pizza stone on the top rack while I pre-heat and keep it in during the baking process. This gives it that stone cooked flavor right in the oven.
Bake for about 18-20 minutes until your crust is golden brown. Allow it to set for a few minutes to cool. This will keep your ingredients in place when you cut. Do not cut your pie in the cast iron, it should slide right out onto a serving dish.
Share your favorite deep dish toppings with us and let me know how your pie turned out!